My parents were in town this weekend for their oldest granddaughter’s 9th birthday. And Saturday night, post-party festivities, after the birthday girl had gone to bed, and both grandparents were reading/Facebooking/relaxing, I found myself moving around, restlessly, straightening chairs and cleaning the kitchen and starting laundry and organizing work stuff for Monday. Also sipping on a wee bit of Kentucky’s finest.
After my 3rd or 4th trip through the living room tidying up, my dad said, “What are you doing?”
And my mom said, “She’s doing what she does.”
And we all grinned as I said, “Yes. I’m doing what I do.”
When I’ve got a lot on my mind. Or feel unsettled. Or need my surroundings to be calm and tidy because my heart/soul is not those things. Or just need to let the day roll off of me.
I straighten. I rearrange furniture. I organize drawers. I clean up piles of coloring books and mismatched socks and doll clothes.
I restore order externally which helps me restore order internally.
The birthday girl had a lovely day–good friends, cupcakes, all 4 of her grandparents, plus a doting cousin, and all the playing and jumping and laughter her beautiful heart could take. I loved seeing her so joyful and carefree.
But the day was also a reminder for me that relationships and families–they’re messy. They can’t be tidied up and re-organized zen-style into perfect little drawers. Even when everyone is rising to the occasion of a birthday celebration with grace and class and all attention focused on the one being celebrated…even then…families are messy.
Because we’ve all got our stuff. Our hurts. Our insecurities. Our doubts. Our “What Ifs?” We’ve all got our damage. Our grief. And like it or not, it comes to bear on how we relate to one another. On how we navigate our best days and our worst days.
Because here’s the thing: There is no perfection when it comes to families.
There is only trying our best to see the goodness in each other. Working hard to create some space for a little grace to shine through. Extending gratitude for one another’s presence. Trusting that one day it’ll all be alright again.
We’re all broken. There’s no way around that. But how we treat each other in the face of that brokenness is everything.